One of the best live bands in the underground today -- and pretty damn great on record, too, as evidenced by my favorite of their discs, "The Chemistry of Common Life" (2008) -- Toronto's art-punk provocateurs F*cked Up never fail to challenge listeners' expectations, and they're giving Chicago fans two chances to catch them this weekend, at the Empty Bottle tonight (Friday, July 9) and on stage at the West Fest street festival at 7 p.m. tomorrow (Saturday, July 10).
Damian "Pink Eyes" Abraham and his bandmates headline the Bottle, 1035 N. Western, after opening sets by my own band Vortis (and yes, I'd be just as enthusiastic about F*cked Up if we weren't on the bill) and Tight Phantomz starting at 10 p.m. The cover is $10; visit the Bottle's Web site for more info, or follow this link for my interview with Abraham previewing the band's last appearances here in February.
Taking place tomorrow and Sunday from noon to 10 p.m. on Chicago Avenue between Damen and Wood, the musical lineup at West Fest kicks off on the Empty Bottle-programmed main stage at 1 p.m. Saturday with YAWN, followed by Beach Fossils (2:30), Bloodiest (4), Class Actress (5:30), F*cked Up (7), and Jonathan Toubin (8:30). The Sunday lineup is Caroline Smith & the Goodnight Sleeps (1 p.m.), the delightful psychedelic-pop band Light Pollution (2:30), Dominique Young Unique (4), Life & Times (5:30), Small Black (7), and the ripping We Were Promised Jetpacks (8:30, and also headlining the Bottle on Monday, July 12). Also worth catching spinning on the DJ stage on Sunday: the great Derrick Carter.
The Waco Brothers
And then there is the Old Town School of Folk Music's Folk and Roots Festival, taking place in Wells Park at Lincoln and Montrose Saturday and Sunday. I wrote about this year's lineup a few weeks ago, and much more information is available on the venerable Chicago institution's Web site, but it's worth expanding on a comment I made in the earlier post about this being the most kid-friendly of any of Chicago's big music festivals.
A much-respected former colleague emailed me the other day asking if I thought he could bring his six-year-old to Lollapalooza--a reasonable question, considering how heavily that Walmart on the Lake mega-fest hypes its "Kidzapalooza" attractions. Honestly, given the overwhelming crowds (as many as 95,000 allowed in this year), with a fair number of folks inebriated and/or generally trying to be as rude as humanly possible; the long walks in and out of Grant Park; the steep ticket prices; the often brutal heat, and the debatable merits of the "kids' music" offered on the Lollzapalooza stage--one remembers Patti Smith's very R-rated set a few years ago, with tales of Palestinian children blown apart by Israeli bombs, and the adults elbowing the handful of kids out of the way to get closer to the legendary punk-rock goddess--no, I don't think it's the place for toddlers, or anybody under 17 or 18, really. For that matter, I feel the same way about Pitchfork and most of the bigger, louder street festivals in town (the Hideout Block Party standing as the only other exception, at least early in the day).
Folk and Roots is a very different story, with the Old Town School going out of its way to offer plenty of attractions, musical and otherwise, for the knee-high crowd, as well as a heck of a lot of folk, roots, and worldbeat sounds that parents will find equally thrilling. And it's impossible to quibble with the price: The suggested donation for adults is $10; $5 for seniors and children.
Longtime readers know I always am skeptical of supergroups, but Sweet Apple -- the new band led by Death of Samantha/Cobra Verde frontman John Petkovic and featuring Dinosaur Jr. guitar hero J. Mascis -- has proven to be a welcome exception with the propulsive garage/glam/power-pop anthems of its Tee Pee Records debut, "Love & Desperation," and I hear it's even better live. The group headlines at the Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace, after opening sets by Mondo Drag, Detholz!, and the always mind-melding Plastic Crimewave Sound starting at 9 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $12 in advance or at the door.